AMP Kingston: Heritage Trail

AMP KINGSTON: ART, MUSIC, POP FASHION 1960s – 1990s and beyond

Did you know that some of the world’s most famous bands of the 60’s to the 90’s cut their teeth at the Kingston Polytechnic? That David Bowie unveiled his Ziggy Stardust persona at the Toby Jug in Tolworth for the first time or that Mary Quant’s Gala cosmetic factory was just down the road in Hook?

Focusing on themes of Art, Music & Pop Fashion, this AMP Kingston Heritage Trail brings to life the artistic and cultural heritage of Kingston through the places where it all happened. This trail is part of AMP Kingston, a National Lottery Heritage Fund supported project exploring and celebrating Kingston’s music heritage. 

 

You can dowload a printable version of the map here:

AMP Heritage Trail PDF

Introduction

The years between 1960 and 1999 saw some of the most pivotal shifts in the cultural history of the Western world. Responding to the austerity and brutality of the Second World War, music, art and fashion styles began breaking away from tradition; pushing boundaries, toying with excess and exploring what it looked like to create a new world.

Against a backdrop of technological change, global campaigns for civil rights and women’s liberation, the world saw widespread challenges to authority and explosions of unprecedented creativity, the fruits of which have stood the test of time as some of the greatest achievements in our cultural history. 

Whilst American popular culture had become a global phenomenon, shaping tastes and trends well beyond the nation’s borders, Britain – and London more specifically – would become ever more prominent as the locus of trendsetting across art, music and fashion during these decades.

New Romantic punk college students at St Martin's School of Art in 1985. Photo: Homer Sykes
WIZZARD performing in 1973. Photo: Alamy.

What was happening in Kingston?

Kingston – ever a day tripper’s leisure destination – would share much of the capital’s buzz, becoming not only a hotspot for touring American bands but a factory of local creativity in itself. Between 1962 and 1999, some of the world’s most famous bands would grace the stages of Kingston’s local pubs and live music venues, with David Bowie unveiling his famous ‘Ziggy Stardust’ persona for the first time at the Toby Jug pub in Tolworth in February 1972. 

The prolific Kingston School of Art has fostered the careers of famous alumni from David Nash to Glenda Bailey, with local boy Eric Clapton going on to world acclaim, following his stint at the college and busking on the streets of Kingston and Richmond. The notoriety of the college has continued to have a profound effect on the volume of creative people residing in the borough and contributing to its astounding cultural output. 

In 1965, under the new leadership of Daphne Booker, the School of Art’s Fashion students won first-prize at the St. Gall Fashion Awards – a first for the UK against the established European winners – signalling the emergence of the ‘London Look’ as the signature style of the decade. In the same year, businessman Stanley Picker – himself a major benefactor to the University through the Stanley Picker Fellowships and Stanley Picker Gallery – struck a lucrative deal with trailblazing 1960’s fashion designer Mary Quant, to manufacture, licence and sell her thriving makeup line from his Gala Cosmetics Factory in Chessington. 

Quant’s signature playful and androgynous style helped redefine the decade, and launched the ‘Youthquake’ phenomenon which pervaded music and popular culture of the time. This cultivated a newfound respect for the ideas and values of young people to shape and influence the world they wished to inherit. A powerful legacy left by this moment in history, this is a mantle that Creative Youth is proud to take on.

You can experience the AMP Heritage Trail across multiple sites in Kingston and neighbouring areas from 1 February until 23 March 2024, including FUSEBOX, Rose Theatre, Bacchus Late Bar, Kingston Museum, Kingston University, The Fighting Cocks, The Grey Horse, The Stanley Picker Gallery, Dorich House Museum, The Lamb Surbiton, and the Eel Pie Island Museum.

Click on any of the stops on the Trail Map above to learn more.

This project is an ever-evolving picture of Kingston’s rich cultural legacy, past, present and future. To share your memories or thoughts, please email ampresearcher@creativeyouthcharity.org

You can find the full list of venues below:

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Mary Quant designs worn by models in 1967. Photo: Alamy
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust at Earl's Court Exhibition Hall, 12th May 1973. Photo: Ilpo Musto/Alamy

More about AMP Kingston

AMP Kingston is a National Lottery Heritage Funded project focusing on themes of Art, Music & Pop Fashion, delivered by Kingston based youth arts charity Creative Youth. Working closely with Kingston’s community of residents, musicians,  venue owners and promoters, educational institutions, and fans, we have developed a Heritage Trail across Kingston, building on the legacy of Kingston RPM (Records, People & Music), another NLHF supported project delivered by Creative Youth in 2017. 

Through a mix of oral histories, archive material and intergenerational community responses, we hope to help uncover and celebrate the stories of Kingston’s rich artistic and cultural heritage, to inspire and support our next generation of creatives. 

In 2023 AMP partnered with Kingston Museum and The Community Brain to deliver the ‘Bowie and Beyond’ exhibition, covering the story of David Bowie launching his Ziggy Stardust persona at the Toby Jug. In June 2023 AMP also delivered UPCYCLE, working with young creatives to deliver an all day event of art, visual art, music, and make-up and craft workshops.

In summer 2023 AMP Kingston launched AMPlify, the project’s very own podcast series. AMPlify features a wide range of voices that AMP Kingston has engaged with, whether interviewees reminiscing about Kingston’s music past, artists delivering creative responses, or volunteers supporting the full range of AMP’s work. AMPlify can be streamed on Spotify and YouTube, or you can find all episodes here. 

We’d like to thank all the staff, volunteers, supporters and partner organisations that have made this project possible – you can find them all here.

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